FanPost

Are the Blazers improving

 

This post hopes to assess the Blazers progress. We would expect a young team to improve and stats in general to get better. IMO one stat that is reliable is the point differential, just go to ESPN/NBA and notice

 NBA point differential  ….(same table is pasted below)

 ….All of the good teams win by a larger amount than the average teams. The bad teams, well OKC has a point differential of  –9.4 which means on average they score 9.4 points less per game than their opponent.

Last year the Blazers were 41 & 41. Their point difference was-1.0 and suggested close to a 50/50 record, which is where we ended up. A point difference of -1 means for the year they scored 1 point less than their opponent each game. This year to date we are at +4.0 which should get us into the playoffs.
If we had a –1.0 this year that would probably place us around 10th in the western conference. So far we have improved an overall +5 when compared to last year – a significant improvement. However this post will only look at the improvement from the beginning of this year to the present.

 

 

                                  Point differential after 29 games 2008 - all Teams

Team W L PCT PF PA DIFF
Cleveland 24 4 0.857 102.3 89.3 13.0
Boston 27 2 0.931 102.3 91.4 10.9
LA Lakers 23 5 0.821 107 97.5 9.5
Orlando 22 6 0.786 101.1 94.6 6.4
Houston 19 10 0.655 98.3 94 4.3
New Orleans 16 8 0.667 96.1 91.8 4.3
Portland 18 11 0.621 99.3 95.3 4.0
Denver 18 11 0.621 102.1 98.5 3.6
San Antonio 18 10 0.643 96.8 93.4 3.3
Utah 17 13 0.567 99.8 96.9 2.9
Atlanta 18 10 0.643 96.4 93.9 2.5
Dallas 16 11 0.593 100.2 97.8 2.4
Phoenix 16 11 0.593 103.3 102.9 0.4
Milwaukee 14 16 0.467 97.5 97.2 0.3
Miami 15 12 0.556 96.9 96.8 0.1
Detroit 15 11 0.577 96.2 96.2 0.0
Philadelphia 12 16 0.429 94.2 95.4 -1.3
Chicago 13 15 0.464 100.4 102.6 -2.2
Indiana 10 18 0.357 102.1 104.3 -2.2
Charlotte 10 19 0.345 90.9 93.1 -2.2
New Jersey 14 14 0.5 101 103.4 -2.4
New York 11 16 0.407 104.4 107.9 -3.5
Toronto 11 17 0.393 95.8 99.4 -3.6
Memphis 9 19 0.321 94 99.5 -5.5
LA Clippers 8 20 0.286 94.3 100.3 -5.9
Golden State 8 22 0.267 104.9 111.4 -6.5
Washington 4 22 0.154 95.5 102.5 -7.0
Minnesota 4 23 0.148 94.4 102.1 -7.7
Sacramento 7 22 0.241 96.9 105.7 -8.8
Oklahoma City 3 26 0.103 93 102.4 -9.4

 

But the question is, ARE THE BLAZERS IMPROVING.

Below is a list of the first 29 games with an attempt to gauge their progress using point differential moving averages. I need to explain the three right columns in the table below. There are 2 moving averages and the season average. The "7 game diff" is the average point difference of the last seven games. Likewise the "21 game diff" is the average point difference of the last 21 games. And then of course the "Season" is a running average of the season.

Note: keep in mind, there is not truly a 7 game average until the seventh game, and not a 21 game average until the 21st game, e.g. at the end of game 9 the first 2 games drop off and we have an average of games 3 thru 9. You'll also notice at game 8 the 7 game average breaks away fron the other 2 averages. The same is true for the 21 game average, at game 22 the first game drops off and it (21 game average) breaks away from the season average..

 Why do we use three moving averages. The "7 game" average is more sensitive than the "21 game" average, and the 21 game average is more sensitive than the season average. If a team is improving, the 7 game average should rise above the 21 game average and the 21 game average should rise above the season average. I hope this makes sense to those who are not used to moving averages. i.e. if we look at a 7 game span at the end of the year we should see better numbers. 

Let me say it like this: with a team that’s getting better, if we compare the "7 game" average against the "21 game" average the 7 game average should be higher because the 21 game average will include earlier games when the team wasn’t as good.

 

Here are the raw numbers for PTB, a chart of these numbers is posted lower.

Game Team   Opponent Us Opp  7 game 
     diff

  21game 
       diff

      Season
         diff
1 PTB at LA Lakers 76 96 -20.0 -20.0 -20.0
2 PTB vrs San Antonio 100 99 -9.5 -9.5 -9.5
3 PTB at Phoenix 96 107 -10.0 -10.0 -10.0
4 PTB vrs Utah 96 103 -9.3 -9.3 -9.3
5 PTB vrs Houston 101 99 -7.0 -7.0 -7.0
6 PTB vrs Minnesota 97 93 -5.2 -5.2 -5.2
7 PTB at Orlando 106 99 -3.4 -3.4 -3.4
8 PTB at Miami 104 96 0.6 -2.0 -2.0
9 PTB at New Orleans 82 87 -0.3 -2.3 -2.3
10 PTB at Minnesota 88 83 2.0 -1.6 -1.6
11 PTB at Golden State 106 111 2.3 -1.9 -1.9
12 PTB vrs Chicago 116 74 8.0 1.8 1.8
13 PTB at Sacramento 117 96 10.4 3.2 3.2
14 PTB at Phoenix 92 102 8.0 2.3 2.3
15 PTB vrs Sacramento 91 90 7.0 2.2 2.2
16 PTB vrs Miami 106 68 13.1 4.4 4.4
17 PTB vrs New Orleans 101 86 14.6 5.1 5.1
18 PTB at Detroit 96 85 16.9 5.4 5.4
19 PTB at New York 104 97 11.9 5.5 5.5
20 PTB at Washington 98 92 9.7 5.5 5.5
21 PTB at Boston 78 93 9.0 4.5 4.5
22 PTB at Toronto 98 97 9.0 5.5 4.4
23 PTB vrs Orlando 108 109 3.4 5.4 4.1
24 PTB at Utah 88 97 0.0 5.5 3.6
25 PTB vrs LA Clippers 112 120 -2.7 5.5 3.1
26 PTB vrs Sacramento 109 77 0.9 6.9 4.2
27 PTB vrs Phoenix 124 119 0.7 7.0 4.3
28 PTB at Denver 89 97 1.7 6.2 3.8
29 PTB vrs Denver 101 92 2.9 6.3 4.0

 

But how do we gauge the stats when the strength of schedule fluctuates. I’ve plotted the moving averages below and included a " 7 game average difficulty" plot under the point differential plot.

 

The difficulty stat is a crude stat I created to gauge the toughness of the opponent. It also looks at the average toughness of the last seven games, so it should be viewed in comparison to the "7 game" point differential plot. It is based on what "jscot" and others have posted about our chance of winning when we play good teams at home, bad teams at home, good teams away, and bad teams away. And trust  me, it is a very crude stat, but I was surprised how well it worked. This stat oscillates between one and zero, the closer to one the more difficult the schedule.

 In reality the stat should never hit one or zero, but the first game was away against a good team and the stat was not yet a seven game average. After the first few games the only way to hit 1 again would be to play 7 games away, all against good teams.

Blazer Point Differential  

 

  3132947347_aa2e504ec9_medium

At game 18 we beat Detroit and our seven game point differential rose to a hefty 16.9 but notice the strength of schedule was at a low point. Recently we have had our schedule get tough again and the point differential actually dipped below zero, and below the other two point diff averages. My take on this is that teams have seen the double team on Roy working and the Blazers will need to figure this out. The good news is that the 21 game average is still above the season average. If the 21 game average drops below the season average we would have to start asking some tough questions. Have the blazers peaked. Have other teams figured out the Blazers. 

The 7 game point diff average will decline from time to time, but if we are a RISING  and improving team it should spend more of its time above the other two averages.

I like the 7 game moving average, it allows you to have a bad game, but if overall you played well in the last 7 games it’s not going to move the 7 game average much. But if you’ve had a bad stretch (or long road series against good teams) it could dip below one or both of the other averages, but hopefully not for long.

 

If you would like to see this chart later in the year please let me know, actually it will be more telling later on.

 

Happy Holidays everyone, looks like I need to shovel the driveway again.

 

Please see reply to "upper left corners" 2nd comment concerning "white space" it’s helpful information on analyzing this chart. There are two comments, one is right below the other.

 

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